How can you decided what to do in an art retreat? My advice is to follow you curiosity and intuition. You are attracted to a technique or material for a reason. By working with your material of interest you can find out why it speaks to you.
My intention for making paper started already 3 years ago when I visited in Basel the paper museum. I have always been curious how paper is made. In the museum I had the opportunity to use a sieve-like screen in a suspension of fibers to create a small piece of paper. I was fascinated by the process and bought in the shop a copper sieve screen to be able to create my own papermaking screen.
But the step from seeing it in the museum to be able to do it at home was a big one. I had to figure out a lot of things before I could start. In the library I found a thorough book with all the steps to make paper. Over time I collected a secondhand blender, big trays and an antique book press.
Last week I started with the preparation. First collecting plant material to be used as fibers. My plant of choice was horsetail. A living fossil, very common in my neighbourhood. I think the farmer didn't mind I picked it on his maisfield. In our sunny weather it dried fast. Yesterday afternoon I cut it down into little bits and cooked the whole for three hours to break down. It still needs to be processed in the blender to separate the useful fiber from the rest of raw materials.
In the meantime I cut down recycled paper from my studio because I needed more material. This good quality drawing paper will get in this way a new life. The little bits where first suspended in warm water for a few hours before I made it into pulp with the blender. This process is necessary to create the suspension of fibers.
It was much more labor intensive then I anticipated. From the recycled paper pulp I was able to make my first test sheet. Well… it was a bit too thick.
I needed to make the suspension a lot thinner and with the blender I broke down the fibers to even smaller pieces. The second test was an improvement but it needed still more water. The 8th sheet finally was to my satisfaction and I called it a day. I have now a whole bucket of mixed recycled paperpulp.
On Wednesday I will have 3 visitors to work with me.
Then we will use the horsetailpulp, I am looking forward to it already.
This is the second day of Helga's Art Residence At Home. Previous posts are: